Recently an unbeliever raised an objection against the reliability of the biblical accounts, he said that the account of Moses in which he was placed in a basket on the river by his mother had been a copy of the biography of Sargon of Akkad, a Mesopotamian monarch around 2400 BC. The account of Sargon goes like this:        “My mother was high priestess, I did not know my father. My father’s brothers loved the hills. My city is Azupiranu, which is located on the banks of the Euphrates. My mother high priestess conceived me, secretly gave birth to me. She left me In a reed basket, he sealed the lid with bitumen. He threw me into the river, which rose above me. The river carried me and carried me to Akki the water carrier. Akki the water carrier took me as his son and raised me. Akki the water carrier named me his gardener. Although I was a gardener, Ishtar granted me his love, and for four and […] years I have held the monarchy. ”          Taking that into account I would like to know.  What response do you have to that accusation?


I suggest you do some of your own research on this topic.  Yes, it is true that this is a translation of an inscription about Sargon I, who ruled in the 25th century BC–well before Moses.  The problem is that we have very little primary source material on Sargon.  This story is not included in any of the primary source material.  This birth legend of Sargon was written in the 7th century BC.  In other words, it was written in the 600s BC.  This is 18 centuries after Sargon lived!  Almost certainly, this story comes from many hundreds of years after the Moses story.

I cannot rule out that there was a sort of primeval birth-origin story from which both the Bible writers and the writers of the Sargon myth drew their story of the birth of their great leader. Scholars have proposed this, and it is a reasonable proposal.  Let’s be honest.  We cannot prove that Moses was laid in a basket. We cannot prove beyond a doubt that the story of Moses relied on a primeval myth either.  What we can say is that the story of Moses comes from much closer–MUCH closer–to the time of Moses than this story about Sargon I.  Who borrowed from whom?  Did the Sargon story borrow from the Jewish story of Moses?  Did both borrow from the same primeval story?  Did the Moses story borrow from the Sargon story?  I would say that the least likely is that the biblical story borrowed from the seventh-century neo-Assyrian story.  How can an earlier source borrow from a later source?  Therefore, the accusation of the person you are reading is extremely likely to be baseless.

Let us be humble and let us be honest.  Although it is far more likely that the story of Moses is accurate than the story about Sargon, we cannot prove this story of the birth of Moses to be true, and we rely on the general reliability and inspiration of the Bible to inform us that the Moses story is indeed true.  I believe that it is true, but I believe it is a true story based primarily on my overall confidence in the reliability of the Bible, which is based on other evidence, for which there are volumes!  I suggest Reasons for Belief ( as a source of this information.  I hope this helps.

John Oakes

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